Girls’ trips are beneficial

By Nancy Zeman nzeman@prairiepress.net
Posted 1/6/20

For those thinking about planning a girls' trip with their best friends, science says get that planning together as soon as possible.

Research supports that taking a trip with friends can …

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Girls’ trips are beneficial

Posted

For those thinking about planning a girls' trip with their best friends, science says get that planning together as soon as possible.

Research supports that taking a trip with friends can actually improve one’s mental health and long-term happiness. For parents or grandparents, it’s no secret maintaining mental soundness is more important, and more challenging, than ever.

It’s time to Skype with those best buds, line up childcare if needed, pack the bags and get away for sanity's sake.

I’ve always been envious of my friend Kathy Z. who has a couple of groups of friends she gets together with in a variety of settings — cruises, at a Florida condo or in a mutually agreeable city. I’ve seen the pictures of and heard the laughter on the videos posted online. I keep thinking, “Why am I not doing this?”

Most already know that hanging out with friends feels great, but now there's science that explains why. In 2016, researchers found evidence that hanging out with friends, which they call peaceful associations, increases the production of oxytocin, the hormone that floods our bodies when we're happy. Oxytocin is released during positive social bonding experiences — hello, girls' trip — and can make people more trusting, generous and friendly.

Need more proof of the significance of a girls' getaway? Research conducted at Michigan State University in 2017 reinforced the importance of maintaining long-term friendships. In a pair of studies involving almost 280,000 people, researcher William Chopik found friendships become an even more important predictor of happiness and health as we get older, even outpacing the importance of relationships with family members. The research concluded that friendships predict both day-to-day happiness and how long we'll live more than both spousal and family relationships.

When I was visiting Kathy Z. in North Carolina in early December, we spent an entire day with one of her besties from that area, Cheryl. We had never really spent a lot of time together but Cheryl and I both realized we enjoyed each other’s company and friendship. Before I left Mills River, we three were scheming about doing something together.

So here's the takeaway: plan that trip with friends now, even if one or more can't actually get away until 12 months from now. All the better if planned with women who are really loved and trusted, who return the same feeling; women with whom there is a history, or as science might say, long-term peaceful and positive associations. And when a spouse questions why one is taking time away from the family or spending money on a pricey flight, tell him that science recommends it to make one a happier partner, parent and person.

So the next question is: where to go? I have some suggestions.

 

Waco, Texas

Anyone who watches HGTV knows “Fixer-Upper” and Chip and Joanna Gaines. Waco and everything Magnolia Market and the show is perfect for a chick trip. There are plenty of places to stay from AirBNB’s to bed and breakfasts to retreats and hotels. Choose what best fits the group’s vibe. I have my eye on the Gathering Oaks retreat.

There’s plenty to see and do in Waco but heading for the Magnolia Market at the Silos is tops on my list. Shopping, games, the garden and several food trucks serving a little bit of everything to guests visiting from all of the U.S. — and the world.

The Silos Baking Co. is filled with baked goods made from Joanna Gaines’ personal recipes including The Silos Cookie and The Prize Pig — a bacon and cheddar biscuit.

In addition to all things Magnolia, there are other great shops in the area including Harp Design Co., featuring handmade wood furniture and tables, The Findery Waco and The Waco Hippodrome, an entertainment venue.

Charleston, S.C.

I’m not sure one can find a city more full of history, great food and shopping than Charleston. A visitor can spend the entire day walking around Riley Waterfront Park, City Market, Rainbow Row and Boone Hall plantation.

This city lends itself to walking. If the walking gets too much, it is always possible to get on board one of the horse drawn carriage tours which are worth every penny.

There are plenty of places to stay and visit including Sullivan Island or Folly Beach as well as an historic harbor cruise, an historical walking tour, Patriots Point and a trip to Fort Sumpter National Monument.

 

New Orleans, La.

For those seeking a non-stop party, New Orleans is definitely the place to be. Everyone knows the Big Easy is the place to hear good music, eat and drink. There are plenty of boutique hotels — some with rooftop bars and pools — and is perfect for a group of friends looking to have a good time.

 

Boulder, Colo.

Boulder is the best, plain and simple. Take a drive up Flagstaff Mountain for a picture at the Lost Gulch Lookout then check out the street performers on Pearl Street and walk the pedestrian mall to check out the unique shops.

Boulder's beloved Flatirons — those slanting, massive slabs of sandstone that form Boulder's backdrop from just about any angle — tend to have a slightly mystical effect on visitors. I’m willing to bet a first time visitor will be drawn to them, and the Chautauqua area affords the best way to get a closer look. Gaze up at them from the hiking area's beautiful meadow, where dozens of trails lead off into the foothills, then hike right up into the Flatirons to seek a bit more exercise and adventure.

Don’t forget Celestial Seasonings. There are free tours on the hour daily to the largest tea manufacturer in North America.

Don’t delay any longer, get the friends on the phone and start planning.